Chiara - Italy
My AFS Experience
Hi, I'm Chiara and I come from Italy. It's been 6 weeks that I'm in the United States and now I live in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At the beginning I had some problems because of the different hours and also the different language in fact I had some headache because I had to transalate lots of things. Also I was in a new family that I didn't know and I was in a new house. During the first days I was feeling like a guest in this family, but now I feel more like part of the family, and I have the best host family, they are really nice. I was really nervous for school because it's a really big school and I didn't know many people but now I like school: I find my classes without getting lost and also making friends it's easy because when people know that I'm italian they start asking lots of question. During these first weeks I met lots of nice people and I'm also thankful for AFS and my host family for giving me the chance to be here for a year. It will be an amazing experience!
Maria Ocampo - Paraguay
My AFS Experience
My name is Maria and I'm from Paraguay. I'm very happy to share my experience with all of you!
One year ago I decided to be part of the AFS family. When I knew that I was going to come to the U.S., I started to count the days because I couldn't wait to leave home to explore the world. I had basic expectations such as living with a new family, seeing new places and making friends. Now that I'm living the experience, I can say that this is more than what anyone could have imagined!
I'm part of an amazing host family who I've learned a lot from. I have two young host sisters who are adorable! I’ve fallen in love with my host dad's delicious biscuits and gravy, and my host mom's delicious desserts such as chocolate chip cookies and ginger bread bars.
I had the opportunity to visit two southern states with my host family as well. We visited South Carolina, where they introduced me to Greek food called spanakopita, and North Carolina, where they introduced me to bow berry biscuits and barbecue. These experiences are very different to that of my home country.
Being on exchange can be challenging. I didn't realize how much it would affect me. I have learned new things about myself including how strong I am. I've learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I participated in a speech competition in my history class. I took the plunge and I left behind all feelings of shyness and fear of public speaking. I really surprised myself and won the contest! I was a quiet person and now I've overcome the obstacle of speaking publicly in another language.
AFS is definitely a great experience. It’s helped me appreciate the little things more. I relish the simple everyday moments that bring me lots of joy and without realizing it they are becoming part of my exchange year memories. In addition to trying many new and different things, I think AFS is training us for life. We leave behind our customs, language, friends and family for one year, but believe me the trade-off is worth it! In addition to having many new wonderful people around me, I’ve gained a new place to call home.
Nadia - Switzerland
My AFS Experience
My name is Nadia, I am 16 years old and from Switzerland. I have a younger brother, who is 13 years old and we are very close. Different than at home I don’t have siblings at my host family’s home. In the U.S. I live with a couple who have grandchildren my age. Their daughter lives close by and visits every weekend with her two sons. I am very happy be a member of an extended host family!
In my home country I played clarinet and practiced field hockey. In the U.S. I’ve had the pleasure of playing field hockey and being in the school band. Band is one of my favorite classes, next to Spanish and History. I’m really enjoying school! I’m learning new things every day, both in and outside of class. I’m improving my English and my ability to navigate school and U.S. culture improves daily. I’m always learning new things about the people around me. Often the cultural things that are not directly related to class work are the most interesting things to learn!
Being from Switzerland, I am not use to living near the coast. Being in Massachusetts has been very special for me and I love it. I am excited to see the beach covered with snow and after the winter I anticipate seeing the plants coming back to life in the spring. I surely will miss the beach and the ocean when I return to Switzerland.
I had an expectation that I would only experience American culture and meet only Americans during this exchange, but I have been fortunate to meet many other exchange students from all over the world! During AFS gatherings, we teach each other about our cultures and customs in our home countries, which is really interesting. What a gift to learn about the cultures of China, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Italy and many others too!
I’ve enjoyed living close to Boston and experiencing all of the beautiful fall colors and the changes that each season brings. I was accustomed to seeing my home community all year long, but in traveling to a foreign place I am noticing all the beauty and the differences.
The exchange experience is not the way I expected it, it is better! I expected to be homesick and not experience as many aspects of U.S. culture as I’ve been able to. I thought I might have had a hard time making friends, but this was not the case. My English is better than I expected it to be, which helps a lot in adjusting to meeting new people. The last five months has already changed me for the better, and I am still growing. I am learning more about myself by going through challenging situations on my own, without my parents’ help. I’ve become more independent and responsible, which I feel are important benefits in life.
I am really enjoying my exchange year! I look forward to seeing my friends and family back home again, but I also look forward to coming back one day to visit my host family, American friends and my host community. I anticipate a future of traveling to many more countries to visit my AFS friends from all around the world.
Kristian Gustavsen - Norway
My AFS Experience
My name is Kristian, I am 17 years old and from Norway. I am currently hosted on Cape Cod. I’ve made many friends at school and I have a great time hanging out with them after school too.
I enjoy playing soccer and was able to play for my high school team here in the U.S. About two weeks after my arrival in the U.S. my team’s soccer practice began. During one of the practice games I was injured and ended up on crutches. My first day of school was extra difficult because I had to hop around on crutches! It makes for a good story though.
Now I am very familiar with everything around my host family’s home and in my school community. Choosing to be an exchange student was one of the biggest decisions I have ever made. I am really glad that I came on exchange because l am experiencing new things every day and over all am having a great time!
Siddharth Rathod - India
My AFS Experience
I am Siddharth Rathod from India. I am loving my experience in the U.S. I love many things about living in Massachusetts, especially the people here. People here are very helpful and kind. For example, when I am crossing a road on foot, people pull over and let me cross first before driving by. I feel that this is very sweet of them. I would never experience that in my country! I also really like my school here in Massachusetts. My teachers are very friendly and helpful towards me. Students can talk and ask questions as a friend would with the teachers. This is very different in India. The classes are advanced and high tech too. I really love going to school. Last but not least, one of my favorite things about New England is the snow! Though I understand that we haven’t had much snow yet this winter, I still loved the little snow that we got!